On October 25, 2023, the City Bar Justice Center commemorated the tremendous support of eleven volunteers, who were awarded with a 2023 Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award, for their remarkable commitment to our clients and for championing our team’s mission to advance access to justice. Congratulations!

Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project: Thomas R. Makin, Partner at Shearman & Sterling LLP

The Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project provides legal assistance to micro-entrepreneurs and aims to promote economic empowerment among entrepreneurs and small businesses.  

Thomas R. Makin, partner at Shearman & Sterling LLP, has been a volunteer with the Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project since 2017. He has given several community-based presentations on intellectual property issues reaching over 100 entrepreneurs, providing information and guidance on how they can monetize as well as protect their intellectual property.  Additionally, Thomas has provided direct representation to five entrepreneurs on various intellectual property matters. He provided nearly 50 hours of pro bono assistance to a veteran entrepreneur with general intellectual property issues and contract development. He also assisted an entrepreneur with her small startup natural hair care business who sought assistance with protecting the name of her business and product line from a petition to cancel her trademark. Thomas and his team concluded a settlement agreement to resolve the petition for cancellation of her trademark, which allowed the entrepreneur to go on selling her haircare products without interruption and free of the threat of losing the momentum and brand recognition that she had begun to garner for her business.  

Thomas also assisted an entrepreneur and grief counselor in drafting the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for her business website. He provided advice with registering the business name and logo with USPTO’s trademark office and protecting the business’ website content through copyright protection.  

Most recently, Thomas has worked with an educator and game maker, and provided legal assistance with the understanding, protecting, and licensing of intellectual property rights to the game – which aims to educate and bring groups together to work on a green energy plan for New York City – in a manner that would allow continued growth and collaboration among many different parties and interests.     

For Thomas’ long-standing commitment to assisting entrepreneurs in realizing their dreams of economic self-sufficiency and community building, we are delighted to present Thomas with a 2023 Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award.